As viewers know from watching any number of producer Dick Wolf’s television programs, an episode will provide a glimpse of the suspect’s life, which can say a lot. When the FBI: Most Wanted team entered a pedophile’s house on Tuesday, it was chock full of religious items, implying it was his strict religious upbringing that turned him into a monster.
In the episode “Vanished,” the investigation of Agents Jess LaCroix (Julian McMahon) and Sherryll Barnes (Roxy Sternberg) into pedophile Samuel’s life leads them to his home, which looks like it hasn’t been changed since his childhood.
It’s filled with religious paraphernalia. There are religious paintings and Bible verses on the walls, crucifixes, Bibles, and at least two statues of the Virgin Mary. You get the idea. The agents are picking up and examining many of these items throughout the scene:
Agent Barnes: Samuel’s place reminds me of my Grandma Lottie’s. Only thing missing is a jar of ribbon candy stuck together since the ’70s. Church was a big deal. If you didn’t show up, you better be dying.
Agent LaCroix: My father had the same philosophy about the racetrack. Lots of commentary about the Bible here. Leviticus, Judges, Ezra. All Old Testament.
Agent Barnes: “No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5.
Agent LaCroix: His parents had Samuel late in life.
Agent Barnes: Could’ve been an oopsie baby.
Agent LaCroix: When did they die?
Agent Barnes: 13 years ago. No other addresses for him on record, so guess he’s been living here his whole life.
Agent LaCroix: Well, either he likes their style or he was so dominated by their memory that he can’t change anything.
Agent Barnes: That’s strange.
Agent LaCroix: Samuel was an only child, right?
Agent Barnes: Yeah, this had to have been him. Kid spent a lot of time in here.
Agent LaCroix: Under a watchful eye. Looks like it was a deadbolt.
Agent Barnes: You think they punished him by locking him in here?
Maybe. I mean, their books are all about the First Testament, which is about atonement, consequences for your sins.
Further into the episode, Samuel is burying his 8-year-old victim, Caleb, who is unconscious but still alive and fitted with an oxygen mask. As Samuel does so, he sprinkles water over him as if performing a baptism and is reciting Bible verses which correspond to his wall hanging. He says:
Caleb Isaac Vaughter, when your eyes first met mine, we were tethered. Your skin, your ribs, your eyelashes. Your shoulder blades and feet. You shall be cleansed. No one can enter the kingdom unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A stranger to my son.
The episode has done plenty of damage with such scenes. What is the point of portraying a pedophile as a God-fearing Christian, with Bible verses, statues of Mary, and crucifixes in his home, except to sell an overused stereotype about evil hypocritical Christians? It’s worse than lazy, and it is downright disturbing that this stereotype would be associated with these terrifying kinds of parents and, even more so, someone who commits the worst kind of crimes.
Conservatives Fight Back: Advertisers for this episode included Pampers; State Farm; Tide; Geico; Audi; Applebee’s; Febreeze; and Volvo. Perdue was a repeat offender throughout this episode.
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